We are used to the sideways glances of onlookers whether we are towing our home or managing our son through a very public meltdown. We’re the weirdos. We get it. However, one of the main missions of The Mama On The Rocks is to educate so that people can begin to breach these non-traditional topics with kindness and understanding.
So here are some of our most frequently asked questions…and their transparently honest answers.
Why did you start writing?
This was all born out of a need for cheap therapy. Writing has always been cathartic for me and when our son’s diagnosis came, we felt very isolated and alone. It felt like no one understood and there were no resources for parents like us. So I sought to create a community where people could feel safe to connect, reach out, and find resources so they didn’t feel alone parenting their extreme child.
Do you ever get negative feedback?
Is the Pope Catholic!? Yes. And I’ve had to learn that trolls will be trolls. It happens. We once had an entire comment thread about people who called us ‘trailer trash’ and said we didn’t go to the dentist. Creative, I’ll give them that!
What is your favorite part of this business?
My dad always told me that if I didn’t like my boss to become my own. And I have. I never thought it would be possible in real life, but tiny living has afforded for us to chase dreams we never thought possible before.
How do you handle public meltdowns?
Gracefully. People are crazy and love to call CPS. I always joke that I need a T-shirt that reads, “Hey Karen, don’t call CPS. He has disabilities and we are following his behavior plan.” It is hard and there is just no other way to put it. So, breathe. And also…wine.
What if your family doesn’t agree with your parenting decisions?
No parent agrees with everything their child does, even when they are grown-ups. We are just all out here doing the best we can. We do what we can to educate those close to us about why we do what we do with our son, specifically. A lot is just about a lack of understanding so do your best to ensure they understand.
What about school?
Tiny living has afforded us the financial freedom to Roadschool our kids. This allows us to focus on a hands-on approach to learning that emphasizes our kids’ strengths while allowing extra time to develop areas of weakness. Public school tried. Our son had truly incredible teachers, but the system is broken and they didn’t have the resources they needed to meet his needs. We never thought about homeschooling before but it makes the most sense. If someday it doesn’t, we are flexible. If our daughter wants to go to public school, we are open to that. Parenting is fluid.
Are you ever afraid about your younger child growing up around these behaviors?
We actually didn’t expand our family after having our son for a lot longer than we originally planned. However, that was because meeting his needs took more time, energy and money than the neurotypical child and he is the love of our life and our responsibility. It can be scary raising any child in this world so exposure goes far beyond our little household.
What are your biggest fears about raising an extreme child?
The average child with our son’s diagnosis has an 80% higher rate of addiction, incarceration, and suicide. So our fears for him run far deeper than medication or school performance. We do our daily best to love him in an exceptional way so that he grows up knowing what unconditional love and kindness feel like.
How do you maintain privacy when living in such a small space with kids?
This is our favorite questions to field and we call this the ‘PG’ section of the show. We are very happily married and that means that privacy is a must in our home. We rented tiny homes before going tiny so we could figure out what worked for our needs so we prioritized having bedrooms on the opposite end of our homes with doors that actually close. We pair that with a love of the outdoors and having our own little sanctuary spaces outside and we have plenty of privacy
What do you say to loved ones who think you’re crazy?
Join the club! We have always been ‘go against the grain’ types of folks so this is not a foreign concept to us. We’ve always been minimalists so when the research to improve our son’s behavior backed simplified living, a tiny house was a logical solution. At the end of the day, we have to do what we think is best for our little family.
What about when your kids get older? Will you still live tiny?
Absolutely. We honestly cannot imagine living any other way. In fact, when we visit other people’s homes who have cluttered rooms and overflowing shelves, it gives me anxiety. We modeled our house with growing kids in mind so they have their own space and privacy as well as the same for us as parents.
Was it hard to get rid of so much of your ‘stuff’?
Honestly, that was the best part of the transition to tiny living. It taught our kids to feel the kindness that comes with blessing others with our abundance as well as making us some extra money and making space in our home. Additionally, I was able to give all the really great ‘pre-baby’ clothes I had that I would never fit in again to beautiful mamas who could actually use it now.
Is it hard to find a place to park?
This is a loaded question since tiny living is a new development in the housing industry (less than 10 years old). In many states, tiny homes are still not legal because of things like the ability to property tax something on wheels. We have a lovely place to park with the absolute best landowners on the planet, but I’d advise anyone concerned to check out my eCourse Timeline to Tiny (embed link here) which includes a list of links of zoning and coding by state.
Is tiny living really cheaper?
Without question. We get a lot of folks who ask because they are skeptical of the rising cost of building tiny. However, building tiny comes with less construction cost, less material cost, less monthly utility cost, as well as the good that comes from that financial freedom. We have decreased our monthly expenses from over $3000 a month to right at $1000. So, in short, Y-E-S!
How do you make a living if you’re mobile?
This obviously depends on your skills. I was a teacher when we went tiny so we parked on a farm for the first year so that I could drive to my regular job every day. Then, in the summer, we traveled—sometimes with our house and sometimes without it. When we are mobile, we make our money from online work. I write and my husband does graphic design. The point with tiny living is to find something you love and do it on purpose. Tiny life affords us to pursue dreams we’d never have thought possible before.
What is the hardest part about living tiny?
Honestly, nothing that we’ve encountered living tiny has been anything more than a normal adjustment to moving into any new location. You learn and you get better at things. For us, the craziest thing so far was when our pipes froze. We didn’t have water for two weeks so we showered at the gym and invested in a heated hose. Problem solved!
What is the best part about tiny living?
This is hard because we sincerely love everything about this lifestyle. Probably the thing we are most proud of is the ability to expose our children to so many experiences, different cultures, and relevant, hands-on learning. That opportunity paired with the financial freedom and ability to travel